“What now?” That’s a question many seniors are struggling to answer after retirement. You’re used to working every day for years. Not having to report to the office five days a week brings a gap into your life.
You have your hobbies, but you’re still left with extra hours in your day. You start wondering if you retired too early.
While it might seem like you have nothing to do, your days don’t have to be filled with sitting and watching paint dry. Why not volunteer your time?
Volunteering has been part of popular culture since the beginnings of civilization. Known by many different names including aid work and charity work, volunteers have been helping people gain better lives for generations.
After retirement, many seniors experience feelings of loneliness. You’re used to seeing the same people five days a week for years. After you retire, your social circle shrinks. It can be hard to stay active, especially if your friends are still working.
Volunteering closes this gap in your social circle. You’ll create new friendships with fellow volunteers and the people you are helping.
What Volunteering Can Do
Worried that you won’t have anything to challenge your mind? Volunteering helps to keeps your brain engaged. Work on puzzles with elderly citizens or help at-risk children with their math homework. You’ll keep your mind engaged while having fun.
Volunteering benefits the body as well as the mind. You’ll stay physically active by getting out of the house. Look for a workout partner and you can motivate each other to stay active.
List of Senior Volunteering Organizations
Ready to start volunteering? Modern Senior Magazine is here to help. We’ve put together a resource list of organizations to help you start your service. Whether you want to stay local or take an overseas adventure, there’s a program with the right fit for you.
Senior Corps. A division of the National Service branch of the Government, the Senior Corps connects you to a wide network of volunteering opportunities. The Senior Corps offers three popular programs for seniors: Foster Grandparent, Senior Companion, and RSVP. With a wide network, there’s a division near you. You won’t need to leave your town to make a big impact in the lives of others.
Join a non-profit. Non-profit organizations run on volunteer numbers. You’ll have the satisfaction of giving back, while helping run a fundraising event, setting up for a benefit show, or providing information to the community. Non-profits are a great way for you to stay active in your community. Is the non-profit you’re looking into nationwide? Give them a call and ask for the closest division near you.
Don’t feel like joining a nationwide organization? Check in with your city’s community center. They’ll be able to provide you with extra volunteer services right in your own backyard.
Projects Abroad. Ready to give back and see the world? Projects Abroad connects you to opportunities worldwide. While the programs cost money, you’re rewarded with a different cultural experience. Projects Abroad value senior volunteers for their expertise and patience, and strong skill set. You are able to select the program and location you’re interested in being a part of. Some programs come with fixed durations, others provide more flexibility. Is your church group interested in traveling together? Look into the “Grown-Up Specials”, shorter volunteer trips with a fixed start and end date for all involved.
Peace Corps. Did you want to join the Peace Corps when you were younger, but your parents said no? It’s not too late to join! With no age limit, many seniors are fulfilling a lifelong dream and are joining the Peace Corps. With programs ranging from three months to two years, you’ll be able to donate your time on your own time. Their programs are worldwide, spanning multiple continents and countries. There are no fees associated with the application process for the Peace Corps, but plan ahead! Applications take about nine months to completion. The Corps provides a living stipend during the duration of your stay, as well as medical and dental coverage.
Prepare for Departure
Once you’ve found the program of your choice, don’t hesitate to tell all your friends and family. You may inspire your siblings or grandkids to come volunteer with you.
If you are leaving for an overseas program, make sure you have all the necessary arrangements in place. A close friend or family member can take care of pets while you are gone. Consider renting out your house for extra income. If you’ve downsized, rent a house until it’s time for your departure. Storage facilities will keep your belonging stored safe and sound until you return home.
Staying local with your service? Take two or three volunteering opportunities. You’ll gain experience in different fields and will become a knowledgeable member of the community.
Look forward to all the new friends you will make, and all the hearts you will touch. By volunteering, you’re not only bettering your life, your bettering the life of others. There’s nothing more powerful than the joy of connecting to fellow human beings from all walks of life.